Less than 8 miles from the Mexican border, Bisbee was founded as a copper, gold, and silver mining town in 1880, and named in honor of Judge DeWitt Bisbee, one of the financial backers of the adjacent Copper Queen Mine. Because its plan was laid out to a pedestrian scale before the automobile, Old Bisbee is compact and walkable, and not a place to drive your RV. The town's hilly terrain is exemplified by the old four-story high school; each floor has a ground-level entrance.
Mining in the Mule Mountains proved quite successful; in the early 20th century the population of Bisbee soared to more than 9,000. In 1917, open-pit mining was successfully introduced to meet the copper demand during World War I. Mining operations in Bisbee ceased in 1975, and heritage tourism replaced mining as Bisbee's economic driver. Artist Stephen Hutchison and his wife Marcia purchased the Copper Queen Hotel,as well as other buildings in the downtown area. Actor John Wayne was a frequent visitor to Bisbee and the Copper Queen. He befriended Hutchison and eventually partnered with developer Ed Smart in his real estate ventures. Bisbee became a haven for artists and hippies fleeing the larger cities of Arizona and California. Today, the historic city of Bisbee is known as "Old Bisbee" and is home to a thriving downtown cultural scene.
For our visit to Bisbee, we're still boondocking away from everyone else along Forest Road 687 within Arizona's Coronado National Forest, at the foot of the Dragoon Mountains just north of Tombstone. If you'd like more information about camping along Forest Road 687, watch our previous episode number 143 on Tombstone https://youtu.be/w4l7YSzFBCw .
Filmed: March 21-24, 2020
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